BRUSSELS, Feb 12 (Reuters) - The euro zone economy grew at the same pace in the last quarter of 2015 as in the third because industrial output fell in December, data showed, marking a slowdown from the first half of the year and adding to arguments for further monetary easing.
The European Union’s statistics office Eurostat said gross domestic product in the 19 countries sharing the euro rose 0.3 percent quarter-on-quarter in the last three months of last year, the same as in the July-September period and as expected by economists polled by Reuters.
Year-on-year, the euro zone economy expanded 1.5 percent, also as forecast by economists.
No detailed breakdown was available with Eurostat’s first estimate, but separate data showed euro zone industrial output fell 1 percent month-on-month in December for a 1.3 percent year-on-year fall.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected a 0.3 percent monthly rise and a 0.8 percent annual increase in production.
Economists said such GDP growth rates would not be enough to generate enough inflationary pressure to take price growth up to the European Central Bank’s target of below, but close to 2 percent annually from 0.4 percent in January.
“We continue to think that further monetary easing is required, with further policy rate cuts on the cards from March onwards,” said Nick Kounis, economist at ABN Amro in a note published before the data release.
“However, more fiscal stimulus - in the form of public investment - in countries that have room for manoeuvre, and structural reform more widely - is also needed to support monetary policy,” he said. (Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek)